In January 2022, Dutch public broadcaster NOS revealed that a research center at the Free University of Amsterdam was conducting research into human rights issues, most notably on Xinjiang, with the financial support of the Chinese state. According to an agreement between the Dutch institution and a publicly funded Chinese university in Chongqing, the center received approximately 300,000 euros per year in 2018, 2019, and 2020. NOS documented many pro-CCP statements made by members of the research center in Chinese state media and online. For instance, one of the researchers there wrote on LinkedIn that stories about labor camps in Xinjiang were “rumours” and decried “whatever lies the western media comes up with” about the region. As a result of NOS’ reporting, the Free University of Amsterdam announced it would be closing the research center in July 2022. The incident was highlighted as an example of Chinese interference in Europe during Ursula von der Leyen’s 2022 State of the European Union speech.
Chinese state funds Dutch university’s human rights research into Xinjiang